Health information technology (HIT) helps improve hospital management and ensures that the best possible healthcare services are delivered. As HIT evolved over time, HIT’s role has also become more important in the decision-making process of every healthcare organisation.
Let’s look at some of the specific information technologies that have emerged in the last decades and how they are improving the hospital and healthcare industry.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
Enabling real-time access to important patient details
Electronic health records are a key part of health IT and health information systems in general. Replacing paper-based medical records which were more time-consuming and prone to readability and accuracy issues, EHRs have significantly improved the accessibility and availability of patient information. From a patient’s medical history to diagnoses and treatment plans, EHRs enable:
- The provision of complete and up-to-date patient details at the point of care
- A more coordinated and efficient healthcare service
- Higher rates of correct diagnosis from clinicians
- Better workflow and allocation of resources
- Heightened privacy protection for patients
Scanning medical record technology
Delivering accurate patient information in an instant
Thanks to the development of scanners, medical records can now be digitised and made available directly from within a hospital’s EHR system. Although scanning can still be time-consuming, requiring personnel to prep and scan documents, and assess the quality of scanned records, its benefits far outweigh any necessary investments. Digital medical records mean:
- Hospital staff can spend more time on improving their healthcare services and less time on managing paper medical records
- Health information system (HIS) departments can quickly and securely access medical records for clinical coding
- Clinicians also have easy electronic access to their patients’ information
- The occurrence of misplaced records are eliminated or significantly reduced
Aiding the classification and processing of patient data
Hospitals across the country group acute admitted episodes using the Australian Refined Diagnosis Related Groups (AR-DRGs), a classification system that groups patients with similar conditions requiring similar services.
Assigning patients medical records to an AR-DRG however is often a complex process. But thanks to grouper technologies, health information managers and clinical coders are able to do this more efficiently. Containing the AR-DRGS algorithms, groupers help HIS teams translate patient data into codes and effectively group the healthcare services they provide over a defined period into condition-specific or procedure-specific episodes.
Improving the management of healthcare data
Analytics technology has also proven to be a valuable tool in managing the increasing volume of health information. It helps users across different hospital departments to measure and improve the effectiveness of their processes as well as patient outcomes.
For instance, many HIS departments use analytics to leverage their EHRs and PAS. With the help of an analytics software, they can get a better visualisation and identify significant patterns in terms of patient length of stay and the time it takes for patients to go through various procedures at each of their facilities. This kind of visibility allows them to gain the insights they need to help various departments make data-informed healthcare decisions.
Helping HIS departments achieve quality clinical coded data
Auditing tools have also gained more popularity in recent years. Supporting the implementation and enhancement of clinical coding, auditing tools help improve workforce efficiency. They also help in revenue optimisation and in achieving high-quality coded data while offering educational opportunities for coders.
For instance, Code Focus which is a cloud-based real-time auditing tool helps HIS teams streamline their workflow and increase the reliability of their hospital’s clinical coding data. They can create their own audit rules to target specific coding errors and flag medical record deficiencies. Health information managers (HIMs) can also utilise coding worklists to meet coding deadlines, track the status of documentation queries and provide real-time feedback to their coders.
Patient Administration System (PAS)
Providing administrative, clinical and operational functionality to healthcare organisations
A patient administration system helps streamline a hospital’s day-to-day management and administration tasks. It assists with billing and reporting while also connecting separate patient records across databases. PAS also gives healthcare organisations the ability to better schedule their resources and deliver coordinated care throughout the patient’s journey in the health system thereby enabling:
- Organisational efficiencies
- Reduction in operational costs
- Resource optimisation
- Enhanced patient safety
At present, many healthcare organisation are currently moving or changing their PAS to better improve their systems and allow staff to navigate a more streamlined care pathway for their patients.
AI-enhanced computer-assisted coding (CAC) systems
A health information technology trend to watch out for
Several AI-enhanced CAC systems have also emerged in the last several years to help enhance the healthcare coding workflow and ultimately uplift the consistency of patient care.
CAC systems powered by machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NPL) have shown promise for augmenting clinical coders’ ability to code accurately and efficiently. For instance, ML-enhanced solutions can process multiple code systems simultaneously and identify complex patterns within documents to assign codes. NLP on the other hand allows CAC software to scan medical documentation in EHRs. The software can then identify key terminologies and suggest codes for a particular treatment. All of these features have the potential to help coders further increase their coding productivity, spend less time on low-complexity coding tasks, and focus on more challenging patient cases.
However, the technology in general is still in the development phase. Before we can fully realise its benefits, learning algorithms still need to evolve and become more accurate. A large number of nontechnical issues such as regulatory challenges and changes to workflow also have to be addressed first.
Getting the right health information technology means having the ability to consistently improve your decision-making processes, clinical outcomes and your hospital’s operational efficiencies. As you consider the next HIT to invest in, ensure that it aligns with your long-term goals and fits your strategic plan for growth and improving the quality of care your patients receive.
Learn more about how you can achieve high-quality coded data and ensure correct revenue and workforce efficiency in your organisation. Book a demo today to learn more about how Code Focus works.